People of Northwest Public Radio
Sun March 3, 2013
Blast Targets Shiites In Pakistan; Dozens Killed
Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 12:18 pm
Dozens of people are dead in the Pakistani port city of Karachi following a blast Sunday near a Shiite mosque.
Update at 3:16 p.m. ET Toll Rises
Authorities now say at least 37 people were killed and another 141 wounded in the blast.
Our original post:
Here's more from The Associated Press:
"The bomb exploded outside a Shiite mosque as people were leaving evening prayers, said police official Azhar Iqbal. Men, women and children were among those killed and wounded, he said.
"At least 28 people were killed and 50 others were wounded, said a top government official, Taha Farooqi. He said some people were feared trapped in the rubble of buildings that collapsed in the bombing.
"No one has claimed responsibility, but Sunni militants linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban have targeted Shiites in the past, claiming they are heretics."
Sunday's attack follows bombs targeting Shiite Hazaras in Quetta last month and in January. Those attacks killed more than 100 people.
Following the January attack, Pakistan's Supreme Court faulted the government for its "dismal failure ... to provide safety/security to the people."
And in a report last month, Human Rights Watch said there was a sharp "escalation in persecution of religious minorities in 2012." The organization documented 400 Shiites killed across the country in 2012. Here's more from the report:
"The government was unable or unwilling to break the links between Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies with extremist groups. Sunni militant groups, including those with known links to the Pakistani military, its intelligence agencies, and affiliated paramilitaries, such as the ostensibly banned Lashkar-e Jhangvi, operated openly across Pakistan, as law enforcement officials turned a blind eye to attacks. The government took no significant action to protect those under threat or to hold extremists accountable."
Shiites make up about 20 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people.